Juan Cruz Leyba tells us about some life lessons we can all learn from the sport.
I started playing golf in 2009 because a friend recommended that I should try it. One time we were playing golf well past sunset, and he told me, “If you like it, you should start tomorrow and I promise you won’t regret it.” Sometimes when I have a bad day on the course I remember what he said and I want to go back to him and tell him just how much I regret it! But then when I finish at the end of the day, I’m always anxious to play another round.
Golf is a unique sport. As far as sports go, it’s the most democratic of all – anyone can play and compete against anyone else. Your skill doesn’t matter, nor your height, weight, age, or anything else. Of course, the more you practice the greater are your chances of winning.
Among golf’s many unique traits, there are a few that apply not only to the sport but to life as well. One of these is etiquette.
Even though each player is accompanied by someone keeping score, it’s generally understood that the player tells the truth with the number of strokes he/she has taken, etc. Of course, there is always someone who is tricky or tries to cheat, because such actions and lack of honesty are for personal benefit. But overall there is a lot of trust amongst players.
Another rule of etiquette is to always be considerate of the person or group who is playing the course behind you. If you leave a mark or damage to the course, you should fix it so as not to jeopardize the following games. Always thinking of others is a practice that helps us in all areas of life.
On a personal level, golf has taught me many things. The first tournament I won was in 2009 and before that I always lost and was always at a disadvantage compared to other players. However, for some unexplainable reason, I didn’t lose my patience that day or get nervous because I saw I was losing. When it was my turn, I did my best and in the end I won! Since that time, I learned to have more patience when playing and that the right moment always comes and you just have to take it.
They say that golf doesn’t build character, it reveals it. People who get anxious or angry quickly find that golf will just accentuate those aspects of their personality. Players often scorn their club, the ball, the hole, or even themselves. However, you quickly realize that it’s almost mandatory to learn to control these frustrations in order to play a better game – or to simply not end up throwing your clubs in the trash!
What I love most about golf is that you compete against others, against the difficulty of the course, and, more than anything, against your personal flaws, be they physical or mental. There are no excuses, and improving depends solely upon yourself. Also, the 19th hole (aka the bar) is one of the best parts of the game!
Since 2009 when I fell in love with the sport, I recommend it to everyone and tell them “you won’t regret it!” I know that’s not 100% true, but I also know that in spite of having off days, I’m always excited to get back on the course.